More than a third of people have experienced a problem when shopping online or on the high street during the last 12 months, new Which? research has found.
And by not exercising their legal rights or not being able to, these problems have cost consumers a whopping £2.1bn.
Issues include faulty products and problems getting your money back along with failing to return items bought online after changing your mind.
Which? wants to see strong consumer laws in place to help protect consumers.
That’s why Which? supports the government’s Consumer Rights Bill, published in June this year, which includes greater consumer rights for shoppers.
We launched our Which? Consumer Rights website earlier this year so that consumers can learn about their rights and get the answers to their everyday consumer problems, including returning faulty products.
Consumer Rights Bill
The Bill aims to provide consumers with more clarity about problems with goods, services and digital content so consumers and retailers know where they stand.
Although we welcome the Bill, there are a few areas where Which? thinks the government should go further.
For example, only three in ten (31%) of people surveyed think a trader should always have the chance to fix a problem, such as with work done on your home, so we are calling for consumers to have a choice.
We will be giving evidence to the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee today to ensure consumers’ views are heard.
Shaky consumer confidence
Our online survey of 2,066 UK adults in September 2013 revealed confidence is highest when buying goods on the high street, with over eight in ten saying they feel confident.
However, confidence is lowest when buying goods from an online auction site, with only 50% of people saying they felt confident.
Use our guide if you have a problem with something you bought on eBay.
Patchy consumer knowledge
Despite high levels of confidence, people’s knowledge of their consumer rights is patchy.
Four in ten people incorrectly believe there is no one they can apply to for remedy if a smart phone breaks one month after the warranty has expired.
If your mobile phone is faulty, you still have rights under the Sale of Goods Act, on top of your manufacturer’s guarantee. Find out what to do if you have a faulty mobile phone.
Just 31% of people correctly identified the length of time consumers have to inform the retailer if they change their mind and request to return an item from an online retailer.
According to the Distance Selling Regulations, you have seven days to cancel an item from the day after you receive your goods, even if you just change your mind.